A Made-In-Saskatchewan Approach to Agricultural Water Management
Agricultural water management supports continued growth of a sustainable and resilient agricultural sector in Saskatchewan.
The Government of Saskatchewan has set targets in Saskatchewan’s Growth Plan and Prairie Resilience Climate Change Strategy that contribute to the sustainable and competitive growth of the agricultural sector and will protect Saskatchewan’s water resources for generations to come. Agricultural water management will help the agricultural industry to grow and develop in a sustainable way that protects property rights, infrastructure, and the environment and secures the ability to manage water on agricultural lands for the future.
Implementation of Saskatchewan’s agricultural water management framework/strategy is one of the actions outlined in the Prairie Resilience Strategy that will support continued economic growth, enhance wetland habitat conservation, and improve runoff management such that Saskatchewan communities have increased resilience to drought and flood.
The Agricultural Water Management Strategy, which was released in 2016, provides a strategic direction to guide responsible drainage activities in Saskatchewan, so landowners can manage water in a sustainable manner, as well as create healthy and resilient watersheds. The vision is responsible agricultural water management supporting a resilient and thriving Saskatchewan.
The strategy focuses on managing four key agri-environmental priorities:
To develop mitigation policy approaches that are acceptable, practical, and effective at achieving the goals set in the Agricultural Water Management Strategy, it is important to test new ideas and listen to stakeholders and Indigenous communities to ensure we create a balanced approach where everyone can benefit. Agricultural producers and Indigenous communities are adaptive, and they continue to innovate and adjust their farming practices to changing conditions. Learning from these experiences through the engagement process facilitates innovation and better processes. This also helps ensure that the policy considers the local/regional conditions and aligns with the needs and interests of Saskatchewan people.
This is why, over the next year, the Water Security Agency (WSA) is undertaking a broad-based engagement with agricultural, Indigenous communities, environmental, municipal, science and research, and other partners and stakeholders to inform a made-in-Saskatchewan mitigation policy that will support our province’s growing economy.
Practical policies will be vital to ensure there is consistency for the agricultural community and security for agricultural producers in the province.
What is the Water Security Agency engaging on?
WSA will work with stakeholders and Indigenous communities in every step of the policy development, from defining our guiding principles and desired policy outcomes, to the development of mitigation approaches and launching our implementation plan. The agency has developed a comprehensive engagement process that includes on-going engagement. There will be multiple opportunities for engagement and for providing feedback, which include three plenaries, one-on-one meetings, and through written submissions to WSA.
July 2022 Engagement Sessions
WSA launched an engagement process through plenary sessions in Regina (July 25) and in Saskatoon (July 27). The plenaries were structured for stakeholders and Indigenous communities that may be directly impacted by a mitigation policy, and whose advocacy directly relates to wetland management at the provincial scale. More than 70 groups (51 Saskatchewan-based stakeholder groups, and 21 Indigenous organizations, Tribal Councils, and independent First Nations) were invited, with a total of 30 organizations and communities attending the sessions.
The objectives of these engagement sessions were:
- To provide an overview of plans and timelines for developing a mitigation policy.
- To gather perspectives on key components of a mitigation policy (draft Policy Framework and draft Guiding Principles), and on factors to consider when developing a mitigation policy.
WSA’s forward-looking approach to seek input and feedback has been designed to provide numerous opportunities for a continued conversation. As such, these engagement sessions were initial in nature and intended to launch an on-going engagement process until July 2023.
December 2022 Engagement Session
WSA hosted a second plenary on December 8, 2022, in Regina, as part of the agency’s engagement on an Agricultural Water Management Policy. Twenty organizations attended the event, including agricultural producer groups and industry leaders, environmental and research organizations, Indigenous communities, and municipal/community organizations.
The purpose of these engagement sessions was to:
- To adress feedback from the July 2022 enegagement sessions; and,
- collectively discuss desired policy outcomes
The policy outcomes will serve as targets and inform development of the mitigation approaches.
In the new year, WSA will share more information on the Demonstration and Research Project results and continue to engage on the development of mitigation approaches.
- Updated Policy Framework
- Desired policy outcomes: Draft statements and summary of what we heard from the one-on-one meetings
DEMONSTRATION AND RESEARCH PROJECTS
The mitigation policy engagement complements the 11 demonstration projects currently being assessed. WSA is working with 10 different organizations to test and demonstrate the utility of innovative water management solutions that have the potential to enhance the profitability of farmers and ranchers, while protecting the environment and local infrastructure. All 11 projects are incorporating the best tools, techniques and management practices of the agricultural industry and continuing to address the needs of the entire province.
Locations of Demonstration and Research Projects (blue dots) in Saskatchewan that are testing innovative solutions for agricultural water management.
The mitigation policy is expected to be finalized by fall 2023. Once implemented, WSA will monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of the mitigation policy to allow for ongoing improvements. This will include regular public reporting on key performance indicators, the frequency of reporting will be determined once indicators are identified.
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For information about the Agricultural Water Management Strategy, click here.